Groups and individuals have been observed using quads and trials bikes in the Wicklow/Dublin Mountains despite the current Covid-19 restrictions, according to the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in a warning on the matter.

Such bikers are travelling on fragile mountain habits, forest roads/tracks and on the public road and there is evidence that some have travelled some distance to get there, the authority noted.

“Many of these vehicles are travelling at speed, causing a safety concern to landowners, other road users and people taking exercise within their 2km radius from home,” a department spokesperson said.

Apart from any Covid-19 movement restriction currently in place, the use of these vehicles within the Wicklow Mountains National Park and Special Area of Conservation is an illegal activity and extremely damaging to the fragile landscapes of the Dublin/Wicklow Mountains.

These illegal activities cause the loss of vegetation and erosion which leads to gullying, scarring of the landscape and eventual landslides, the authority warned.

In addition, the unregulated use of these vehicles is also a concern for wildlife and livestock, interfering with breeding ground nesting birds, and disturbing groups of animals and interfering with their natural behaviour.

The department spokesperson added: “We remind all users of the Wicklow Mountains that the use of recreational off-road vehicles within the Special Area of Conservation is illegal under the European Communities Birds and Natural Habitats Directive and ask people to report such behaviour to the duty ranger of Wicklow Mountains National Park at: 087-9803899; and the Gardaí.

This activity is a scourge to upland habitats. Reports will be followed up on and perpetrators prosecuted where possible.

“Given the current national crisis, we would hope that the precious resources of the state are not required to deal with such avoidable behaviour,” the department’s warning concluded.